March 12, 2008

For the First Time

Reviewing Paul Potts.
Boston Globe, March 12, 2007.


Henry Holland said...

Many of the pop songs - including R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" - were sung in Italian, in harmonically unadventurous arrangements of sober rhythms and yearning strings

[whispered] The horror......the horror.......

I gave up years ago trying to explain to people that performers like Mr. Potts or Russell Watson wouldn't even make it past an audition at their local opera companies, any criticism was taken as a personal insult.

TJ in Texas said...

Errmmm, Mr. Holland, You said "performers like Mr. Potts ... wouldn't even make it past an audition at their local opera companies."

In 2000 through 2003, Paul Potts performed in four principal roles for Bath Opera. He has sung the roles of Don Basilio (Marriage of Figaro), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), the title role in Verdi's Don Carlos, and the role of Radames (Aida). Also, he sang the role of the Chevalier Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut for Southgate Opera in N. London.

Due to illness and injury, he had not performed or had any voice lessons for four years prior to his appearance on "Britain's Got Talent".

Mr. Potts may surprise you in the future.

Henry Holland said...

TJ in Texas, massive apologies for my ignorance (and thanks for being kind about it!)--to be honest, I only know Mr. Potts' story from a few items in the Los Angeles Times, I was under the impression his story was "Friends heard him sing at karaoke, encouraged him to enter competition, tour date at the Wiltern Theatre 10 minutes down the street from where I live follows". Um, no...

Anyone who can sing Il mio tesoro well enough to get engaged by an opera company has my undying admiration, I run out of breath just looking at those long phrases of legato 16th notes!

Dianne Patti said...

Three questions for Mr. Guerrieri:

Is there a particular reason for missing several of the superior facets of Mr. Potts' singing? (such as his emotional parsody)

Why give the orchestra a pass?

Why mention that Paul and orchestra were amplified when the desigh of the BPC places all musicians within curtains and the acoustical material over the audience?

Matthew said...


I did mention his emotional sincerity, although it's interesting that much of his appeal seems to come from the fact that he's still somewhat of an awkward stage presence. I thought the orchestra was fine, but I only get so much space, and no one was there to hear the orchestra. The amplification cuts to the heart of the issue—it makes it that much harder to judge the qualities of the voice, so when classical-style singing is amplified to that degree (far louder, and far closer, than the sort of subtle miking one sometimes hears in opera productions), it's worth mentioning. You're right that the Berklee Performance Center is geared towards amplified performance, but that's also what makes it unusual for a singer working within an operatic style to perform there. The fact that Potts wasn't playing Symphony Hall, or Jordan Hall, or another venue designed for unamplified performance, is significant in and of itself.

Henry and TJ: It's worth pointing out that Potts' operatic experience in England was limited, as far as I know, to amateur companies. Whether those were auditioned roles or not I don't know.